Amend Citizenship Act: Assam Public Works

A civil society group in Assam today sought amendment of the Citizenship Act under which any person born in India before July 1987 is eligible for citizenship, saying the act is silent on naturalisation status of parents of such persons.

According to Assam Public Works, the Assam Accord clearly states that even kin and descendants of those who illegally crossed the border and came here after March 25, 1971, would be detected and deported.

"However, the clause relating to citizenship by birth under The Citizenship Act, 1955, states that anybody born in India before July 1, 1987, would be eligible for citizenship.

The clause in silent on the question regarding the citizenship status of parents of such persons," APW secretary general Bitu Talukdar told reporters here.

"The government should amend the Act to make persons who are children of illegal immigrants who entered Assam after March 21, 1975, ineligible for citizenship.

"Even when the Assam agitation started in 1979 there were reportedly 50 lakh illegal immigrants in Assam. If children of all of them are able to get citizenship and voting rights on the basis on the Citizenship Act, the entire National Register of Citizens (NRC) update process would be meaningless," Talukdar said.

He said the Central and state governments should clarify whether those born in the country between March 25, 1971, and July 1, 1987, would be included in the voters' list, even if their parents are found to be illegal immigrants.

"Otherwise, we will have to approach the Supreme Court in this matter to seek a formal clarification," he said.

The APW also termed Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's promise last week to complete work on updating the NRC within three weeks as a diversionary tactic.

"Every time people start agitating for expulsion of illegal immigrants the government resort to falsehoods and give fake assurances."

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